Most of today’s adventures were via steam train or on foot. The only driving took place between our accommodations and the steam railway station at Embsay.
We arrived in plenty of time for me to wander around the platform and take lots of photos.
The number of people with dogs on the platform surprised me. You don’t get out there without buying a train ticket first. Seeing my camera, these two posed for me. How could I resist taking their picture? Look at the faces.
The platform bridge afforded the best views of the station building and the train.
The early morning train we rode was busy due to a bus tour making the journey. Still, we settled into a pair of ‘unreserved’ seats and waited for the train to leave. We ended up opening the small upper window for air because with the sun beating in, it turned the carriage into an oven!
The gentle swaying of the carriage almost lulled me to sleep so it was good that the train ride only took half an hour.
After de-training at the Bolton Abbey Station, we watched them bring the engine to the other end of the train, readying it for the return journey to Embsay.
After that, we took the footpath to Bolton Priory.
Walking under the main road was the safer alternative.
We visited the Priory in 2013. They charge a fee to park your vehicle there but if you’re on foot, it’s free.
While my husband tackled the stepping stones, I opted for the footbridge over the river.
We walked back to the train station with an older couple who rode the same outbound train we did. Once again, I took advantage of the extra time to take photos.
I think I’m glowing… I know I was definitely HOT! By now the wisps of hair I’d hoped to control had escaped the confines of the headband, but overall, it worked well.
When we arrived back at the guest house in Skipton later that afternoon, a black VW filled our space in the car park. I spied a couple of places out on the same side of the street as the guest house so turned around so I could snag one. I ended up further down the block than I wanted, but that spot was much easier to get in to. Drive in and back up closer to the vehicle behind. I don’t parallel park at home, so I’m not doing it on the opposite side of the road from the opposite side of the car.
I spotted this treadle sewing machine from our window and took a picture with my phone but I took a photo of it with my DSLR when we left for supper.
We ate at the Devonshire Inn again. Afterwards, we walked along the canal, stopping to chat with a local sitting on the deck of his narrow boat reading a crime novel.
Later in the evening, we got a thunderstorm. A real fire and brimstone one. Not wanting to miss the light show outside, we turned out the lights in our room and opened the blinds.
Tomorrow will be another driving day. We’re headed to South Wales.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be again – no place to park in their small car park. Not knowing Eastriggs that well, and the location of other places to leave the car, we didn’t stay. Disappointed, especially since my friend, Chris Longmuir recently released her latest historical crime novel Devil’s Porridge set at the large munitions factory located between Eastriggs and Gretna during WWI.
We saw this castle from the main A66 road on last year’s trip and with it’s proximity to the motorway decided we would visit it this year. Remember my earlier post when I mentioned perks to being an Historic Scotland renewal member? Not only do we get into Historic Scotland sites free of charge, but also English Heritage ones. And Brougham Castle is one of their properties.
Severe flooding in Cumbria in the latter part of 2015 and early 2016 took out a huge section of the Brougham Old Bridge. Signposted from the main road, when we got to the right turn onto Moor Lane, we had to navigate around the road closed sign. Just before the bridge on the right, is a small parking area.
It’s rare I get to feel tall, but I did today. Even I had to ‘mind my head’ to pass through this doorway.
No visit to a ‘manned’ property is complete without a trip into the gift shop for a memento or two. I always buy a guidebook of the property so I can look back at it later. Well, I even found this little guy… Isn’t he cute?
For those of you who have read The Secret of Hillcrest House you’ll know that a crow figures in the storyline. So, I figured being the wacky eccentric author that I am, I needed a crow… raven.
Guidebook, raven, a few other goodies, and a jute bag to put everything in bought and we headed further south to Skipton.
Today was the first chance I had to take a photo of our second rental car.
When we arrived at Highfield, the car park (2 vehicles only) was full. Follow on around the corner to a pay and display one. Of course, we got there too early for overnight parking.
Checked into our room, we walked back for the car having been told the one vehicle would be moved by the time we got back. The white Fiat now parked on the street, Monty had ‘off-street’ parking. You can see his left front wheel and fender in the photo below.
I researched a few places where we could eat supper once I connected to the Wi-fi, but in the end, decided on The Devonshire Inn (a Wetherspoon Pub).
After fish and chips with mushy peas, washed down with a couple of pints of 1664, we wandered back to the guest house by way of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.
Tomorrow we’re taking the Steam Train from Embsay to Bolton Abbey. Should be fun.
Sept 11 – Bankend to Gretna to Glencaple and back to Bankend
Things didn’t quite go to plan today. Because we booked in to Hutton Lodge for two nights, I wanted to use today to visit the Devil’s Porridge Museum in Eastriggs. It didn’t happen.
Driving around on an inflate-a-spare, limited to 50 miles and 50 mph, didn’t allow much leeway. We’d already driven the day before and would be again later to go for supper, although we hoped for a resolution long before then.
We didn’t dare leave the B&B either because that would be the time the tyre fitter would arrive.
The phone calls started again about 10:00 am. Phone the rental company, they say phone roadside assistance. Call roadside assistance, they say call the rental company. Send an email to the girl who rented us the car. Out of office message.
Things continued this way. The last words the recovery guy said the previous day “tyre fitter will be out by noon”. According to their computer system, he made the repair on the side of the road near Shawhead. Nope. Didn’t happen.
Finally, the ‘ace in the hole’ was played. American Express says no resolution – no payment. That got things moving. They were sending someone out with a new car.
About 4:30, I heard the rumble of a diesel lorry outside the B&B. Sure enough it was the ‘real’ recovery vehicle. The shook his head over the entire situation, but loaded Iain Insignia onto the rollback ready to drive us to Glasgow Airport to get us a replacement vehicle.
While all this happened, a phone call came in from an associate with the rental company branch in Carlisle. He was bringing us a new car and would an automatic be all right.
Recovery driver took the call and the two agreed that rather than float the car all the way back to the airport, we’d rendezvous at the Gretna Gateway Outlet Village.
Resolution closer but not there yet. When we rendezvoused, guy from Carlisle wanted a credit card# to pay for the full tank of fuel in the replacement vehicle. Nope. We paid for a full tank on the first car and only drove it 130 miles. He, too, shook his head over replacing the car over a flat tyre.
Once all the paperwork was completed, and I signed on the dotted line(s), we took possession of a black Ford Mondeo, which in North America is a Ford Fusion. I drove the exact same car to my book launch for A Shadow in the Past in Kansas back in 2012, but that’s another story.
Iain Insignia – starting mileage 3490 miles (almost brand spanking new!)
Iain Insignia – ending mileage 3620 miles
The Ford Mondeo – starting mileage 51403 miles (been around the block a few times)
It was late and we were hungry, so we drove straight to the Nith Hotel for supper. Rather than risk setting off another car alarm, we drove in the same direction the car faced and drove past Caerlaverock Castle and through the hamlet of Shearington on our way back to Hutton Lodge.
The day wasn’t a total waste. I got some blog work completed, some manuscript formatting done, but it wasn’t the way I wanted to spend the second day in Scotland.
The wait to clear customs hasn’t changed. It still takes forever. And that’s because of the queue to talk to a person. Through there and on to the car rental desk. Another long wait but that was the paperwork. Pre-pay for the tank of fuel because it’s cheaper, roadside assistance, etc. Our little car wasn’t quite so little. We took possession of a Vauxhall Insignia, 6-speed turbo diesel. We headed off to the ASDA store in The Phoenix Retail Park for at least one bottle of distilled/demineralized water for hubby’s CPAP machine.
When in the UK and driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road, whilst sitting on the ‘wrong’ side of the car, and shifting gears with the ‘wrong’ hand, I am the designated driver. So no drinkies for me if we have to drive to a place for a meal. Besides, my husband hates driving over there. Did it once and that was enough.
I had brought my unlocked Samsung phone with me so I picked up a pay as you go SIM card. Figured, I could use it if we needed a second phone (purchased a plan through Rogers for hubby’s BlackBerry before we left home). After last year’s paying £10 for a SIM card that wouldn’t work, I wasn’t going to spend that much again. So this time I opted for ASDA’s own SIM card which only set me back 50p.
When we were over in 2000 we had seen Dunure Castle from the main A77 road. I had pretty much forgotten about it until seeing one of the BBC Scotland photo galleries in the weeks leading up to the trip. So, we put the location into Satnav Sally and off we went.
Dunure Castle is free but you have to pay to park in their car park because it’s all part of a larger complex with playing fields, playground equipment and public toilets. It cost us £2.50 to be able to wander in the remains of the castle and use the toilets before moving on.
Here’s our pretty blue car, that I named Iain. He’s the same size as a Buick Regal, which is bigger than my Chevy Cobalt that I drive every day.
Despite the beautiful blue sky, the wind blowing in off the water made it cool. Not quite jacket weather but I had a long-sleeved, black (soak in the sun’s rays) top on and even with that, I felt the chill a few times.
Not quite the way we drove from Dunure Castle but you get the idea. We went across the A719, the B7023, B741, A713, A712 to meet up with the A75 near Crocketford. Got my fix of narrow roads with passing places the first day. Add some cattle grids and narrow gates and it made for quite the adventure.
I mentioned earlier our ‘first’ rental car… well, there was a reason for that. Whilst driving across the aforementioned series of roads, we had a flat tyre. Meeting a car on a narrower road and getting over to make room for both of us to pass, some mud sucked me off the edge and into a cleverly disguised pothole. And pothole is being kind. It was a bloody crater! It made for a bump but didn’t give it much thought at the time.
A bit further along the road, the tyre pressure indicator light came on. I pulled off the road but we couldn’t see anything amiss. At least now we were on the main A75. I limped into a lay-by, thanking our lucky stars that we decided to add the roadside assistance package (fix your car or bring you a new one) to our rental package.
I made the first of many phone calls at 3:00 pm. We were still stuck on the side of the road waiting at 6:00 pm! Eventually, the guy came and put the spare tyre on. They wouldn’t authorize us to do that (my husband is a recently retired mechanic) because we could jack the car up in the wrong place, damage the car, it could fall off the jack… yadda, yadda, yadda. They farted around long enough that the tyre company the rental and roadside assistance people use had closed for the day.
Two of the many phone calls were to the B&B where we were staying. The first call, I left a message on the answering machine explaining the situation. Then when 6:00 came and we were still sat there, I called back and spoke to them. At least we had one less worry… our room would be waiting for us no matter the hour we arrived.
See Shawhead on the map above? That’s how close to Dumfries we were. We sat there for 3 hours while the guy sent out to find us and get us mobile again looked for us on the other side of Dumfries!
He assured us that a tyre fitter would be at our B&B before noon to finish the job. He took down the address of where we were staying, and sent us off on our not-so-merry way.
After checking in at Hutton Lodge, getting the same room as we had last year, and our membership material from Historic Scotland waiting for us, we drove over to the Nith Hotel in Glencaple for a late supper. By then, I could have used a stiff drink but since I was driving (and limping around with a wounded car), I couldn’t.
After leaving the restaurant, while turning the car around on one of the narrow streets, I set off someone’s car alarm. I didn’t touch the car but there wasn’t any more than an inch of space on either side of the wing mirrors between the cars parked on both sides of this wee lane.
Not the nicest way to start a trip but with any luck, everything will get fixed in the morning.
#SEWES2016 ~ Scotland, England, Wales, England, and Scotland
September 9, 2016
Like my hashtag for the trip? #SEWES2016? We’re SEW-ing – and looking forward to our time in these countries.
Things right from the beginning have been weird. I renewed our membership in Historic Scotland back in early May to ensure I remained a ‘renewal’ member. There are more perks to that status. Well, the cards didn’t come. I contacted them in June as they sent out replacements cards. They didn’t come. I get the magazines quarterly so our mailing address is correct. Emailed them again, this time we decided to have them mailed to our first destination. They arrived there but only a few days before us.
Originally, the flight was supposed to be non-stop from Glasgow to Toronto but a stop over in Montreal was added after we booked.
As is the norm when we travel anywhere, I don’t pack until the day we’re leaving. Why do it sooner? It only gives you the opportunity to unpack, repack and do it all over again many times. And if your forget to pack something, there are stores in other countries. We have to buy distilled/demineralized water for hubby’s CPAP machine. Since water is heavy, we don’t want to cart a bottle of it in our checked bags anyway. Not to mention, if the plastic bottle broke in the suitcase, everything would be a soggy mess.
We booked a park and stay at the Quality Inn and Suites on Ambler Drive in Mississauga so we could leave the car there and take advantage of their shuttle bus to get us to and from the airport.
Here we are ready to embark on our adventure. Do we look happy? Excited? Nervous? Any or all of the above?
It’s rare when we’re on vacation that we get photos of both of us together. Usually, it’s just one or the other. But, with my BlackBerry Z10 having front and rear cameras (so does my unlocked Samsung Galaxy Prime), it makes it easy to get pictures of us both together.
I don’t wear headbands a lot but decided to give them a go for this trip. I tie my hair in a ponytail for taking photos but there are always a few wisps of the mop that are too short to stay in (or even reach the elastic). And I can be guaranteed that the wind will blow these bits of hair in front of the camera lens. So it will be ponytail plus headband and we’ll see how that works. If it doesn’t then the tried and true method is to have hubby hold the blowing stragglers in place.
After flying Club Class with Air Transat in 2014 when we went to Paris, we decided never again to fly economy. I mean if you’re going to be stuck in that cigar tube for 7+ hours, you might as well be comfortable. Wider seats, fewer passengers to have to share the loo with, blanket, neck pillow, slippers, and earbuds – this year all packaged up in a reusable cloth bag. And the other part of the comfort kit (designed to look like blue jeans) had a toothbrush and toothpaste, earplugs, lotion and lip balm, sleep mask and socks.
And did I mention champagne? Plus you get real glasses, real cutlery and real plates!
I did take a ‘champagne on the plane’ selfie but by then the excitement had got the better of me and I couldn’t hold the phone steady. It certainly wouldn’t have had anything to do with the three glasses of red wine I drank before boarding… 😉
Go figure, google maps can’t calculate the driving directions from Toronto to Glasgow…
Come back again tomorrow for the next installment of our #SEWES2016 adventure.
Fancy your title on the cover of a book, your name mentioned in the acknowledgements? It could happen! For the month of March, I’m running a book title cover contest.
Not to worry, I am giving you some help starting with the image that will grace the cover. Are the creative juices starting to flow?
Here’s what the book is about…
Sometimes there’s more to a house than bricks and mortar.
Hillcrest House is one such place. Perched on a cliff in the picturesque town of Angel Falls, there is more to this Victorian mansion than meets the eye. When referring to the house, the locals use the word haunted on a regular basis. Strange visions appear in the windows, especially the second-floor ones over the side porch. Even stranger events take place within its four walls.
Rumour has it, the original owners, Asher and Maggie Hargrave, never left their beloved home. They claim the couple and their family are responsible for driving people away. Over the years, Hillcrest House has changed hands numerous times. No one stays long. Renovations begin then stop and the house is once more abandoned. The latest in this long line of owners is Jessica Maitland.
Will Jessica be the next one to succumb or will she unravel the mystery of the haunting of Hillcrest House?
How about now?
How does it all work, I hear you ask.
Contest opens March 1, 2016 and runs until March 31, 2016.
Come up with a title and leave your idea in the comments. And for those of you who would like to take your chances but aren’t comfortable leaving a comment on a blog, send an email to Title Contest.
At the end of the contest, one lucky entrant’s title will be chosen. He/she will receive an e-copy of the book (Mobi, epub or pdf – their choice) and their name included in the acknowledgements.
Another winner will be chosen at random from the non-winning titles.
Enter as many times as you like but be sure you do before the deadline for your chance to win.
Tired of her life in London, freelance illustrator Rachel buys the beautiful but dilapidated Clematis Cottage and sets about creating the home of her dreams. But tucked away behind the water tank in the attic and left to gather dust for decades, is an old biscuit tin containing letters, postcards and a diary. So much more than old scraps of paper, these are precious memories that tell the story of Henrietta Trenchard-Lewis, a love lost in the Great War and the girl who was left behind.
I used to live in London, where I worked in the theatre. Then I got the bizarre job of teaching road safety to the U.S. navy – in Marble Arch!
A few years ago, I did an ‘Escape to the Country’. I now live in a tiny Herefordshire village, where I scandalise the neighbours by not keeping ‘country hours’ and being unable to make a decent pot of plum jam. Home is a converted Oast house (Old agricultural building used for drying hops), which I share with my two beloved spaniels, husband (also beloved) and a ghost called Zoe.
I’ve been lucky enough to travel widely, though prefer to set my novels closer to home. Perhaps more research is needed? I’ve always wanted to base a book in the Caribbean!
I am addicted to Belgian chocolate, Jane Austen and, most of all, Strictly Come Dancing.
The Edge of Sanity – How far would YOU go to protect your family?
A decent, ordinary man, a man who has already suffered the loss of one child, Daniel Conner is forced by extraordinary circumstances into being a hero. Tortured, forcibly drugged—heroin still pulsating nauseatingly through his veins—his wife and daughter degraded, Daniel knows their kidnapper is beyond reasoning with. But does being pushed one step beyond endurance justify doing the unthinkable?
High on drugs, indebted to his supplier, and desperate, Charlie Roberts takes Daniel’s wife and daughter hostage. Daniel does everything within his power to rescue the situation bloodlessly. Eventually though, Daniel realises that with or without violent mood swings induced by amphetamines and cocaine, Charlie Roberts is a psychopath. He wants more than Daniel’s money.
He wants him.
The Edge of Sanity: a harrowing story of hope amid loss and betrayal.
Shortlisted for the Crime, Thrillers & Mystery SpaSpa Book Award for books published in 2014.
Heartache, humour, love, loss & betrayal, Sheryl Browne brings you edgy, sexy, poignant fiction. A member of the Crime Writers’ Association, Romantic Novelists’ Association and shortlisted for the Best Romantic e-book Love Stories Award 2015, Sheryl has seven books published and two short stories in Birmingham City University anthologies
Sheryl’s new contemporary romance novel was recommended to the publisher by the WH Smith Travel fiction buyer. THE REST OF MY LIFE comes to you from award winning Choc Lit.
Katie has had her fair share of bad luck, but when she finally realises her dream of opening a bakery it seems things can only get better.
But the reality of running a business hits Katie hard and whilst her partner, Steve, tries to help she begins to sense that the situation is driving them further apart. Could Katie be set to lose her relationship and her dream job?
Then, one winter’s day, a man walks into her shop – and, in the space of that moment, the course of Katie’s life is changed.
But nobody finds happiness in the blink of an eye. Sometimes it takes two Christmases, three birthdays and a whole lot of cake to get there …
Previously released as Sweet Occasions by the author. Revised and edited by Choc Lit December 2015.
Grandma Grace peers at me with interest over the top of her glasses, taking the box from my hands and placing it on the side. She wraps her arms around as much of me as she can reach, being at least a foot shorter, and gives me a fierce hug.
‘Thank you, my dear, but the only present I wanted was to see you standing here in one piece. It’s such a long journey and the weather! That rain is relentless, so many places are flooded. To think of you at the side of the road worried me to death and I will admit to saying a few little prayers as one hour turned into two, then three …’
She raises her eyebrow sternly, but it’s a brief moment before those twinkly blue eyes are full of love and laughter again.
‘My boy is here and that’s all that counts.’
‘Grandma, I haven’t been a boy for many years,’ I retort, softly, as she releases me with a tender pat on my back. She might be in her twilight years but her spirit is strong and her mind as sharp as ever. We all thought she’d fade away when Pop died, but the truth is he’s the one who would have faded if she had gone first.
‘You will always be a boy to me. Now, tell me more about this guardian angel of yours.’
While the tea is brewing and the cake is sliced, I hang around the kitchen as I did when I was growing up. Grandma Grace was always easy to talk to; she seemed to understand even when the words wouldn’t come. Her instincts filled in the gaps at times when even I couldn’t make sense of what was going on inside my head. After this failed relationship I began to despair of ever finding someone special.
‘You can’t hurry love,’ she’d told me. ‘It takes time to find your soulmate and in the process you change and grow. That’s why young love often withers, as Pop would have said. Two people either change and grow together, or they grow apart. Love is about sustaining what comes after that first hormonal rush.’
‘But that wasn’t the case for the two of you,’ I remember pointing out.
‘There has to be an exception to every rule,’ she’d replied, with a wicked smile. ‘We were lucky. Fate was kind to us. But with hindsight, we were too young and naive to understand that until much later in life. Don’t fret, Adam, there’s a wonderful young woman out there for you when the time is right.’
Sadly, when I reached that point it too turned out to be yet another huge failure. This time the consequences had been more painful than I could ever have imagined. Kelly was everything I thought I wanted in a woman and, after adjusting to the shock of an unplanned pregnancy, she was a fantastic mother. With hindsight I can see now that parenthood came too early in our relationship, we hardly knew each other. Suddenly I was a family man and yet, surprisingly, the role seemed to come naturally to me. I loved Sunday mornings the best. When a little head would appear on the pillow next to me at some unearthly hour and a warm little hand would wind its way around my neck.
“I’m a hopeless romantic, self-confessed chocaholic, and lover of coffee. For me, life is about family, friends, and writing. Oh, and the occasional glass of White Grenache…”
An Amazon UK Top 100 best-selling author with A Cottage in the Country in November 2015, Linn’s novels have been short-listed in the UK’s Festival of Romance and the eFestival of Words Book Awards. Linn won the 2013 UK Festival of Romance: Innovation in Romantic Fiction award. Linn writes chick lit, women’s contemporary fiction and psychic romance for Choc Lit, Harper Impulse and Endeavour Press.
Once again, it’s time for a Burns Supper celebration. This year my special guest is all the way from Edinburgh, author, Janice Cairns.
Welcome to Celtic Connexions, Janice! Do sit down and make yourself comfortable.
Let’s start by getting to know you better. Can you tell us about yourself?
Born in Ayrshire and educated at Ayr academy, I’ve had an assortment of jobs – child care, law, insurance, media and creative writing. I live in Edinburgh now; the city has been my home for the last thirty years. It is here, my dream of becoming a published author, has come true.
My life could be described as a happy mix of marketing for my first book, and writing her sequel. I find time in my busy schedule to enjoy walks at the Botanic gardens, or by the sea, or in the beautiful city of Edinburgh. I’ve always considered my walks as importantr, as I think these activate my creative thoughts and actually inspire me to write.
I didn’t realize you’re an Ayrshire girl – born and raised in Burns Country. Have you been to Canada?
No, I haven’t, but it is a country I would love to visit.
Can I get you a drink? I have a small selection of whiskies if you’d like a dram before we eat. Or we can always have something else.
Well, while we wait for our meal to be ready, Janice, let’s chat about your writing. Forgiving Nancy was your debut novel, if I’m not mistaken. Can you tell us what it is about?
Yes, indeed, Forgiving Nancy is my debut novel. It is love story, which is set in Edinburgh, in the 1980s. The story opens with Nancy Campbell, down in her luck. She meets a wealthy bachelor, Maxwell Elliot, and soon becomes married to him. It is an unlikely marriage, which crosses the barriers, of age, culture, and class. Within a short time, the marriage is crumbling, and Nancy, who is young and beautiful, is enticed away from her slightly eccentric, millionaire husband. She becomes involved with Callum Macduff, who is obsessed, with running his circus, and who is only interested in sex. This affair does not last either as Maxwell finds out. The story then turns into a journey, both poignant and heartbreaking, for Nancy. After a lot of soul-searching, she finds herself in a homeless shelter, but then she finds her way back to Maxwell, who eventually forgives, the mistakes she has made. Through the main plot is also weaved the story of Stella Golding’s unreciprocated love. At one time Stella, had been Maxwell’s housekeeper, and had hoped to marry him. Nevertheless, it all turns out okay, for Stella too. This fashion conscious lady, of a certain, age goes on to find true love, unexpectedly, after experiencing heartache over Maxwell.
The novel’s backdrop, is the beautiful city of Edinburgh, and in many of the chapters, real streets are referred to, so a reader can get a real feel, for what the city is all about, even if they have not been there before.
My chef, Donald, announces the meal is ready.
We’ll start with The Selkirk Grace.
Some hae meat and canna eat, And some would eat that want it; But we hae meat, and we can eat, Sae let the Lord be thankit.
My cock-a-leekie soup isn’t made in the traditional way. I’m not a fan of prunes so I leave them out.
The skirl of the pipes announces the presentation of the haggis. I’m pleased to say that we have Harry MacFayden addressing the chieftain o’ the puddin’ race this evening.
I hope you’re enjoying your virtual “Canadian” Robbie Burns night, Janice.
I understand you’ve completed the sequel to Forgiving Nancy. Can you tell us anything about it?
I am so excited about the sequel, and first I’d like to say, the atmosphere and the mood of All the way from America, is so different from Forgiving Nancy, yet, I am still writing about so many of the original characters. In the sequel, Maxwell Elliot, has reinvented himself, and is launching into a new creative life. He sets out to become an artist, but it is not plain sailing for him. Maxwell’s past creeps in, and causes havoc for him, as he begins to receive, letters from a former love, in America. Also, he gets entangled in an afternoon of erotic pleasure with a friend’s daughter. The afternoon becomes his guilty secret, as he returns to the straight and narrow path of his creative goals. In the sequel, Nancy Elliot inhabits a different world too. She takes up the opportunity of becoming a model in a fashion show. However, what should have been a wonderful and fun evening, for Nancy, is also thwarted by shadows of the past. The main characters of Nancy and Maxwell, are putting their best foot forward, but destiny is determined to spoil their plans. Yet, in the end, everything turns out fine for the Elliot’s, as it does for Stella, who decides the best thing for her, is to return to London, after her marriage to Vincent did not turn out, as hoped. The only similarity the sequel has to Forgiving Nancy is that Callum Macduff, is in the same place as he was before, he does not seem to grow with further experiences of love.
What made you choose the titles for your two novels?
As far as Forgiving Nancy is concerned, way back, I had thought of calling it An Edinburgh Love Story, but as time went on, I began to think, this was too general a title, and not specific enough. So, I then thought West End Intrigue, would be a good title, as much of the setting was at the West End of Edinburgh, and because there was a lot of intrigue, in the book. But, then, I thought more deeply about it, and it occurred to me, one of main themes in the book, ‘forgiveness’, could be used in the title. Since Nancy was the main female character in the book, I then felt absolutely certain, I should call the book Forgiving Nancy.
At the moment, the working title, for the sequel is All the way from America. The reason I have chosen this is because it describes one of the most poignant moments, of the sequel; that moment, when Favia comes all the way from America, with high hopes of rekindling love with Maxwell, only to find Maxwell has no romantic interest in her. After all those years, coming all the way on the plane, only to be disappointed.
I’ve been to Edinburgh a few times. I love the photographs you share of the city on Facebook. Do you have a favourite place you like to go to?
Yes, Melanie, I love to go up to Edinburgh Castle, I love spending time there. Often, I will take myself there and spend a few hours exploring. There are always lots of visitors up there too, no matter the time of year, and I love mingling with the visitors. It’s also a great place to take photos of Edinburgh. Wonderful views of the city, can be seen from the castle. I love to saunter all the way down The Royal Mile too, after being at the castle. I love all the wonderful closes of The Royal Mile, I love to take photos of the closes, which have so much history, attached to them. I am so fascinated by The Royal Mile and the closes, actually, that these aspects of the city are mentioned in the sequel. I know your question asks me to mention one favourite place, Melanie, but loving Edinburgh, as I do, I have to say, there are a great many favourite places that are so very special to me – the Grassmarket, for example and the lovely Victoria Street, then places like Cockburn Street. I love nothing nicer than having lunch in Cockburn street on a summer’s day. Then, of course, there is being by Duddingston loch in the summer, and having a picnic there. I love watching the swans on the river there.
Do you have any more writing projects in the works? Another WIP perhaps?
Yes, I am delighted to say, I have more writing projects up my sleeve, rather than in the works. I am beginning to formulate ideas, for the writing of a third book, but this book will be worlds away, from the first two, with completely different characters, and themes. A new stage is being set, as it were. So far, I have been filling notebooks, with ideas for a third book. As yet, I have not considered the plot, and who the characters will be, in it. All I can say, so far, is this is a book I must write.
We have trifle for dessert. I hope you like it.
When we’re finished eating, we’ll take our coffee and some shortbread into the lounge and listen to some Scottish music and talk a bit more.